The Dirtybox Identity
Peak 4923 seemed to be a summit bourne without an identity. When special agent Jeff Howbert created the Home Court dossier, he gave this peak the mysterious code name Mount Defiance West Ridge Peak. Unfortunately, this led many agents to mistaking the location of this peak. Research shows that some people have thought that Web Mountain, 5335', only 1.33 miles WNW of Mount Defiance was it. Others thought it was Putrid Pete's Peak located between Web and Defiance. Still others looked farther west and thought it may be either Dirty Harry's Peak or Mailbox Peak. In truth, the peak lies 3.58 miles WNW of Mount Defiance between it's sub-summits Mailbox and Dirty Harry's Peaks. Thus, special agent gabrielx gave it a more descriptive code name: Dirtybox Peak.
Oh Mailbox trail, how we love thee!
Talus field traverse
Wishing for K9 traction instead of crampons
The Dirtybox Supremacy
Once our target had been correctly identified we set out to build our file. When on Mailbox Peak, Dirtybox looks like an easy ridge walk away. However all the agents reports that had met this peak indicated the difficulty of following the ridge. Gabrielx, Mesahchie Mark, and Randy all traversed on the SW side of the ridge to avoid some tricky rocky sections. Armed with this knowledge, we set out last Sunday to nab another Home Court Peak.
The Dirtybox Ultimatum
We were the first car at the "Road Closed" signs where the Middle Fork Road starts, which adds about another half mile of road walk to the trip. We blasted up the Mailbox trail (as much as one can blast up that trail) and hit snow just where the trail leaves the denser forest and becomes more open. We used the crusty steps already in the snow to make our way up past the talus field and through the last stand of trees before the summit.
At 4600', just below the last climb to Mailbox Peak, we left the trail and traversed under the Mailbox summit towards Dirtybox. The slope is very steep and we had to use crampons and ice axes to keep from sliding to our demise. Of course, the whippets ran back and forth like they didn't have a care in the world. About halfway to Dirtybox (or so we thought - we couldn't see anything through the thick fog), after traversing under a large rocky outcrop, we headed straight up to gain the ridge between the two peaks. The fog cleared enough for us to determine that we were indeed about half way between the two peaks. From this point it was a very simple ridge walk on hard snow over and up to the Dirtybox summit.
Just some simple sidehilling
Approach to Mailbox
In the snowy basin below Mailbox
On the summit Dude tried to send a mini trip report to NWHikers but he couldn't quite get enough signal for the browser on his phone to work. On the way back towards Mailbox we decided to traverse on the NE side of the ridge instead. That side was a nice open bowl and much less steep than the SW side. Even though the snow up on the ridge above us was corninced it was cold and treed enough that we had no fear. It only took us 22 minutes to cross from Dirtybox over and up to the Mailbox summit. We wonder why everyone goes on the SW side?
Where are the heel lifters when you need them?
Never pass up a glissade opportunity
I wonder if there'll be a lemonade stand....
Once up to Mailbox we stopped to talk with a few people on the summit who wanted to know what the traverse was like. Fellow NWHiker member Shadow came over and introduced himself (he recognized the whippets of course). We headed back down and passed about a gazillion people on their way up to the summit. It was humorous to see all the vehicles clogging up every available space when we returned to where we had parked. Some enterprising youngsters had set up a lemonade stand to sell refreshments to the thirsty hikers but none of us had any cash.
-------------- "Forest 101: These big wood stick things are called trees. The big rocks are called mountains, and the little rocks are their babies." Elliott from Open Season
One more ascent up the Mailbox trail. Guess the "parking out at the loop road" at least made the start of it different than all the other times. Nothing really new on the trail conditions, just a slog up thru the trees with the typical exposed roots and rocks and patches of snow.
Fun little traverse out onto the south slopes of the Mailbox ridge. Wish the clouds had lifted out of the way so we could have seen the views. Once past the rock barrier 1/3 of the way along the ridge, simple matter to regain the ridge line and work over towards the Dirtybox summit. Much simpler and quicker on the return trip via the north slopes. Since we didn't have views on either side due to clouds, a mini loop added a bit of interest to the destination.
Thanks for the TR! Mailbox always seems like a consolation prize, when the weather is bad and there's only a few hours to get back to town. But now I've gotta get up there again to try that last lap over to Dirtybox.
It's funny that was my planned trip for last week until my life got in the way. Or should I say the fish bite was the culprit. I agree about using north side it sure looks more inviting than the steep south traverse.
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